Ken Holland took to Zoom for an expansive, dare I say rambling press conference on Wednesday morning to discuss the demise of the 2021 version of the Edmonton Oilers he manages, and to respond to reporters’ questions as to how he plans to improve his club going forward.
65 minutes later, after many variations on the theme of “I’ve lived it, I’ve done it” and reminiscences of his long years of experience in Detroit, the two most interesting items to these ears were the two questions he answered most directly. So let’s start there.
Holland mentioned the names of his pending unrestricted free agents on a number of occasions, but was most forthcoming on the future of the oldest of them. When asked if he intended to bring back his 39-year-old netminder, he answered in a single syllable, “Yes”, and it didn’t take more than a few seconds before he made it crystal clear: “Yes I do want to re-sign Mike Smith“.
Holland’s return to Smith on Day 2 of free agency last year came only after he struck out on signing Jacob Markstrom and who knows what on a number of other dominoes that fell promptly on on Day 1, not to mention prior trade rumours about Matt Murray. In the end Plan B (or was it C?) worked out famously, as Smith delivered a fine season at a value price of just $1.5 million plus bonuses, half of which were based on success in the playoffs which obviously did not happen.